AN UNEMPLOYED man who stole £36 from a pair of foreign students was given a conditional discharge after a court heard that he had been given the cash to buy 18-rated computer games.
James Ruffle, 21, of Cornfield Lane, appeared at Eastbourne Magistrates Court last week, where he pleaded guilty to two charges of theft dating back to August 8.
Jeremy King, prosecuting, revealed that two 16-year-old German students, just two days from returning home, had been looking at computer games in the Arndale Centre when they were approached by Ruffle.
Mr King said Ruffle had overheard the pair moaning about not being able to buy the adult rated games and subsequently offered to go into the shop for them.
Mr King said, “Once he had the cash he started to run away.
“He was shouted at and said ‘the shops are shutting early today’ before darting into a nearby pub.
The Germans then spoke to a passing policemen who arrested him.
However, Maggie Biglou, defending, told a different story.
She said Ruffle only agreed to buy the games after being hounded by the students.
She said, “This is a unique set of circumstances. He was followed in to a number of shops by the young men who asked a number of times if he would buy the games for them.
“It was only after about three shops that he had had enough and thought he would teach them a lesson and take their money.
“He is remorseful and he is apologetic. It is not something he would have done if he was thinking straight.
“It was not him pickpocketing someone – the money was handed over for something which should not have been bought.”
Ruffle, who has previous convictions for dishonesty, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay the £85 court costs.